ALUMINIUM (XL Recordings) Rating: NNN
If you've ever wondered what the songs of the White Stripes would sound like if they were played by a symphony orchestra, you've obviously got way too much free time on your hands. Clearly XL Recordings boss Richard Russell does, and some extra cash burning a hole in the pocket of his executive slacks, because he's hired producer/arranger Joby Talbot and bunch of string, woodwind and percussion geezers to revise 20 of his favourite Jack White near-misses in full-on LSO style. Aluminium is a wacky concept, particularly because they've consciously avoided the White Stripes' best-known tunes, but the results aren't nearly as horrible as they could've been. Talbot's drastic overhauls, neither daringly avant nor foolishly baroque, allude to symphonic signifiers that will connect with classical newbies of Russell's generation raised on television reruns of 70s crime thrillers and Carl Stalling-scored cartoons. Had Russell the patience to wait five years, White might've tried making an album like this himself, playing all the instruments. For the sake of comedy, I hope he does. Available online as a numbered, limited-edition release at www.xlrecordings.com.